The Department of the Interior (DOI) will offer 77.3 million acres for offshore drilling in the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history on March 21, according to the DOI.
The sale will cover areas off the coasts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. It will include about 14,776 lease blocks from three to 231 miles offshore.
“Responsibly developing our offshore energy resources is a major pillar of President Trump’s American Energy Dominance strategy,” DOI Deputy Secretary David Bernhardt said in statement. “A strong offshore energy program supports tens of thousands good paying jobs and provides the affordable and reliable energy we need to heat homes, fuel our cars, and power our economy.”
The sale is part of the Trump administration’s National Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program, a five-year program that may open up areas along the Atlantic and Pacifica coasts and around Alaska to offshore drilling. The new OCS plan has been touted as a reversal of the previous plan under former-President Barack Obama which placed 94 percent of the OCS off-limits to drilling.
“We have the strongest safety regulations in the world and today’s technology is making the responsible development of our resources even safer,” Bernhardt said. “We look forward to this important sale and continuing to raise energy revenues, which fund efforts to help safeguard our natural areas, water resources and cultural heritage, and to provide recreation opportunities to all Americans.”
More of the OCS may be opened and offered in a lease sale later. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke has promised to meet with every governor opposed to opening waters off their states’ coasts to offshore drilling. Zinke has already promised Florida Gov. Rick Scott exemptions in some areas off the state’s coast.
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